Consider a gap year

Colleges are now encouraging graduating high-school students to take a gap year before they enter university. Students may find it challenging to center in on a specific major and tend to vacillate; often switching several times before choosing a career path.  

Joe O’shea from Inside Higher Ed said this: “[Students]...should think about taking a gap year, to defer college for a year to live and volunteer in a developing country. In the traditional sort of gap year, students immerse themselves in a developing community to volunteer with a nonprofit organization by teaching, working with local youth, or assuming some other community role. Gap years have been rising in popularity in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and elsewhere. I’ve spent the last few years researching what happens to young people when they have such an immersive experience in a community radically different from their own.The answer, in short, is that gap years can help change students in ways the world needs.The challenges of our time demand an educational system that can help young people to become citizens of the world. We need our students to be smart, critical and innovative thinkers but also people of character who use their talents to help others. Gap years help young adults understand themselves, their relationships, and the world around them, which deepens capacities and perspectives crucial for effective citizenship. They help students become better thinkers and scholars, filled with passion, purpose, and perspective.” (Read more here)

Through Go International’s Submerge program we are helping young people discover their passions and focus themselves towards their goals.  Unlike other volunteer programs; Submerge combines both practical teaching and volunteerism giving students the opportunity to both serve and learn. Each day the Submerge team plays a direct role in the service efforts of Go International.

Kristen Tideman from University of Pittsburgh decided to take a semester off of school to join the Submerge Program.  She said about her decision, “ I decided to take a semester off when I realized that some of the best opportunities seem like the crazies ones; it doesn't seem logical to take a break with only one semester left to go before graduating, but I had been questioning for a long time as to why I was even in college in the first place. I had undoubtedly succumbed to the idea that college was the only logical option after high school. I became frustrated when after two years I still didn't have a solid idea of what to do, maybe even less of an idea than I had in high school when the possibilities are all open. With the opportunity to step away from these societal pressures and the rat-race, if you will, I can see that many "successful" people have risen to places of influence by unconventional means. I can see that the accepted path of: college, and then work, and then **boom** ; happiness isn't realistic. Life doesn't happen according to a manual. Perhaps it is even in the risk-taking that we learn the lessons we've been hoping to encounter the whole time.”

If you have been struggling with choosing your career path, consider taking a semester to join Submerge and awaken your creative heart and soul.  You can read more about Submerge by clicking here.  

 

 

Go Alumni Shout Outs!

When we started the Go Internship and Submerge programs we had no idea what amazing friendships would be formed.  Now, almost ten years later our amazing alumni are spread across the world doing incredible things.  At Go we believe that life should be celebrated; so take a moment and see what is happening in just a few lives of the Go Alumni around the world.

Congratulations to Jeff and Kaitly Pelt as they welcome Baby Liam into the world! Jeff and Kait met at Go back in 2007.  They were married several years later.  We are so happy for them and their new little one!

Our very own Anna Brown was engaged this week to her fiance Tyler Humphries. We wish them all the best as they start their exciting new life together!  We think you guys should consider a destination wedding... Ecuador perhaps? ;-) 

In just a few days; Angela Pangburn will walk down the aisle and say “I do”  to David Baker. Angie is now an Aussie native but is home for a few weeks in Tulsa for all the wedding festivities. 

We couldn’t be more proud of the joint partnership of the Unruh and Pelt families.  Together, they founded Hoot Owl Coffee.  Their “Give a Hoot” program donates a pound of coffee to a local food bank with every pound of coffee purchased. The best part? They just got their delicious coffee into Whole Foods in Tulsa!  

No matter where they are in the world or what they are doing we love ALL of our Go Alumni and are so thankful for the time that we shared together.

If you are interested in serving overseas we invite you to "SUBMERGE" a multi month South American experience that combines mission projects, creativity, and classroom training. To read more about the program log ontohttp://www.gointernational.tv/submerge.

The Table

Article by Christa Baca

I love traditions.

I am constantly dreaming up new ways to celebrate and give homage to the dates and special moments of life.  In a world where it’s so easy to drift away from what really matters;  I feel like traditions tether us to what is important.  They keep us anchored.  Tradition creates history and allows us to join in and be part of continuing that history as it unfolds. It helps us through the sometimes mundane everyday moments that fly by as we live out our life.

We’ve started a new tradition at Go.  We call it “The Table.” On the last Friday of the month, our team gathers together and cooks a meal.  Music and laughter enshrouds the base as we crowd into our tiny kitchen and share cutting boards and swap recipes and stories.  We light candles and arrange flowers and eat chips and dip. (Because it’s not a party if there’s not chips and dip.) Then, we squeeze around our table with the lights dimmed low and share stories; stories about the past month, people we’ve met and things we won’t forget. Some of us share entries from our journals, others who are artistically inclined show art they made or photos they've taken.  We set this time aside to remember; and in doing so, we join together and celebrate Christ.  It’s a simple meal that we create together; and yet in that simple meal we feel God there in the midst of us. Somehow on that night the hardships of living in another country slowly melt away, the homesickness we sometimes feel dwindles and we become centered on why we are here.

It’s important in our fast paced world to stop and remember.  Our lives can become so future oriented that we never take time to look back. Usually parties and celebrations center around moving forward: a birthday, the new year, a wedding. Seldom do we pause from the momentum of "forward" to give homage to where we have been. When we look back we see life's victories. We see where God has taken us, many times through places and moments we didn't know if we had the courage to move past. We find strength to go forward as we savor the sweetness of these victories.

We find God here in the remembering.

The 8 Crayon Life

It was about two years ago that we felt this sudden nudging to stop everything we were doing.

Nine years of work.

Done.

It was with heavy hearts that we told our staff and interns that we knew this season was over and that God had something different for us.

What was it?

We weren't fully sure. It seemed illogical to stop, but transition is always served best with a side order of crazy. Despite our doubts, we knew this is what we needed to do. It was with trembling hands that we sold nearly everything we owned in a few garage sales. It was with curiosity and amazement that we decided to follow the leading in our hearts and move to Ecuador.

We sold, packed, donated, and purged life down to what would fit into two 50LB suitcases each. I wish I could say that I felt light and untethered, but let's be real: I missed all my stuff. I would get these little pings of "stuff sickness" in my heart when I would think of my craft closet that didn't exist anymore or my white dishes and vintage chalkboard frames that I gave away and now graced the walls of my dear friends homes instead of mine.

I know they say that "less is more" but "less" honestly felt a lot like...less. I wish I could say that I barreled through these moments of change with grace and ease but there were plenty of moments I spent riddled with doubt and often wondered,"Am I crazy?"

The answer I quickly discovered was, yes. Yes, I was crazy.

Packing up life is one thing, but missing stuff is so minuscule compared to missing people. When you are blessed with so many amazing people in your life there are a TON of big things you miss in a year: The birth of my brother's twin girls, the adoption of my new niece, seeing first hand the sparkle of my sisters engagement ring, late night talks with my mom and dad on their bed, and domino games with my mother and father in law where I would laugh so hard tears would stream down my face. All those amazing, everyday moments that spread out into "life" now become extracted and condensed into a handful of visits for a few days out of the year.

In our "Eco friendly" world it sounds so hipster to sell everything and par life down to move overseas. But I know first hand that there are so many things you don't realize that you will have to give up until you arrive.

Like your language.

Today, one of our Go translators asked me what is the most different thing about Ecuador from the states. Without even thinking I answered,"Spanish."

Ah, Spanish.

No, I'm not fluent.

Yet.

I've come a long way since we stepped off the plane. The first time I attempted to order a simple cheese burger on my own I wound up somehow with two massive double cheese burgers. Nine dollars and three tissues later, I sat looking at my husband, two giant all-beef-patties between us, as tears flowed down my cheeks and I asked him,"What am I doing here?" For someone who prides herself on having an extensive vocabulary, it was this pairing down that was the most frustrating for me. I felt like I was a three month old all over again.  I couldn't communicate anything I wanted to say, and like a baby all I could do was cry about it.

Then, (thankfully) I got over myself and started really trying to learn. After a while you get used to listening very hard and memorization and practicing words over and over.  Someday soon I'll be fluent and I will be so thankful for the days I spent struggling through this language. At least now I've learned to have a sense of humor about it all and I can laugh with others about my Spanish as I learn more and more everyday.

I told someone this the other day, "moving overseas is like pairing down from a 64 color crayon box to an 8 color box."

It's simpler.

In my old life, I used to be able to use any color I wanted; now I find myself having to be more creative. If I'm honest about my old 64 color crayon box life; there's a lot of colors I never used. They just sat there cluttered, wasted, and untouched. The great thing about life with only eight colors is that it causes you to really see and experience every color. Each crayon becomes a necessity and is celebrated and used frequently every day.

In this new season of life I've found that a lot of what I thought I needed, I didn't really need. Somehow, that stripping away has done something beautiful to my soul. Life is indeed richer. Not in a monetary sense but in a wholistic living sense. Thankfully, I can honestly say that less has become more.

Everyday I am surrounded with reminders of how thankful I am for my eight crayon life. I see toddlers who learn to take their first steps in the median of the busy city streets while their moms sell fruit to the cars stopped at traffic lights. I know of children who are forced to work rather than go to school. I've seen the desperation in peoples eyes as they beg for food. My life may be simpler than it used to be, yet compared to so many it's very extravagant. I have learned to be thankful for what I have been given.

This eight crayon life has taught me the necessity of true friendship and community.  I've come to know that strong bonds can form despite language barriers and cultural differences.  I've also learned that the people who really love you will never allow distance to keep a friendship from growing. Text messages and skype sessions, although not always as warm as a hug from the one you love don't just tide you over until your next visit... They leave you smiling all day long.

I've watched young souls give up country and family to serve humanity here in Ecuador. Their boundless courage and unrelenting passion gives me hope for this next generation. They too have found the joy of living this eight crayon life.

I've learned that being where you are is powerful. Not wishing you were somewhere else is life transforming. Slowing down to experience life tethers you to this moment and there is something sacred about living in the moment.  I can tell you from my own experience that embracing the wind of change, no matter how strong it's gusts may blow, is something you won't regret.

So, I invite you to par down and to find the "more" that comes from having "less".  Life lived simple is beautiful. You don't have to sell everything and more overseas to participate in this eight crayon life.  You can experience it by simply celebrating all that you do have and perhaps even looking at some things that you could do without. You find this life when you surrender your plans for His. It's a radical life that Jesus extends to us when he says, "Come. Follow me."  I know all to well how scary it is to drop what you are doing to follow Him.  All I know is that He has made some beautiful things out of my life when I finally handed the crayons to Him.

Am I Crazy?

Photo caption: Greg sharing in "Equip" class to our current Submerge team

They say the place where your talents and passion collide is your destiny.   The past few weeks have confirmed that what we are doing here in Ecuador is our destiny.  From tremendous open doors with the city and the Department of Education, to the amazing time we are having pouring into the lives of our Submerge team, each day is filled with excitement and new opportunities.  It seems that everything we have done in life up until now has prepared us for this moment… and we are loving it.

There is a fantastic quote by Howard Thurmand which reads, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Each of us has that “sweet spot” in life.  Think for a moment about what excites you.  What is that thing that makes you really feel alive?  For us it took a lot of courage to change everything and move overseas.  Saying good-bye to friends and family that we loved and saying farewell to all of our “stuff” was one of the hardest challenges we have faced. There were so many times we would look at each other and ask, “Are we crazy?” We decided that indeed we are crazy. Now, close to a year and a half later we are so grateful that we made the move.

When we choose to follow our dreams it’s like a seed that is planted in the ground.  It takes time to see that seed come alive and begin to grow.  Unfortunately we can get discouraged in the time it takes for the seed to begin to grow.  During those times of waiting don’t give up.  The Bible puts it like this in Galatians 6:9 “Do not grow weary in well doing for in due time and the appointed season you shall reap a harvest if you faint not.”

It’s time to do some things that make you ask yourself, “Am I crazy?”

Journeying Together,

The Bacas

Go Snapshot: Go Weekend

The Submerge program is in full swing.  In typical Go International fashion we kicked off the program with our “Go Weekend”.  Some of you may recall our Go Weekend from our days of running the Go Internship. The weekend unfolds into a two-day experience where the team is led by a series of clues and challenges that represent the core values of Go International. Throughout the weekend the team learns more about the culture of Ecuador as well.  

 

We do these weekends because we believe that the team can absorb more about the culture of Go experientially than in a classroom setting.  Take for example one of our students Jordan Elmore who wrote about one of his experiences from the weekend in his blog:   

 

“ So the blindfold has been removed from my eyes, from my life. That night will forever stay embedded in my mind, and in my heart, of a push to be more, to do more to be a part of my own story, to not let my fears take the pen instead. The blindfold is gone. I can now see. And what I see is bright skies to come, with God giving me a new pen each day, saying “what will you write today that you will remember tomorrow, and ages to come?” That is what He says, and that is how I will live.”

 

 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so we invite you to Check out the gallery below to see some photo’s of the weekend.

Thank you for your continued love and support.

It is making a difference.

Journeying together,

Greg and Christa Baca 

Painting in Yellow

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PAINTING IN YELLOW

The events that are told in this story are completely true. Sick. But true.

So, one day I am waiting my turn to go tanning and I start fiddling with the zipper on my purse. I’m zipping it back and forth to the tune of “jingle bells”- when I notice there is something in the pocket. I hadn’t used this purse in over a year. Now, most girls know that finding something hidden in the bottomless pockets of your purse can be very exhilarating. (Kind of like finding buried treasure.) We stuff all kinds of things in our purses and every once in awhile; you find something you haven’t seen in a really long time.

So that day, I reached deep inside my purse pocket and pulled out… a taco.

Yes, a taco.

Please don’t ask how it made it’s way into my purse. What was I thinking? “Oh, I have nowhere to put my taco. I know! (unzip). I’ll put it in my purse.” Honestly, I don’t know which is scarier, that I knowingly put a taco in my purse or that I have no memory of how it got there.

Do you want to know the really sick thing about the whole deal? Remember how I said that I hadn’t used the purse in over a year? The taco had been unknowingly nestled in my purse and was completely unscathed, like I had just ordered it an hour ago. No mold, no nasty stench- nothing. Just a greasy taco. In my purse. For over a year. (Can you say preservatives?)

Now, I’m not writing a diatribe about the inherent dangers of fast food (Although I think my story may cause you to wonder if it really is “more bueno” to grab a taco on the run.) What I really want to talk about is all the stuff we have deep inside our hearts that sits unused.

Let me explain.

Ever feel like your life doesn’t make much sense, like the things you want to do in life are kind of random? I know I have.

Recently I have been talking with a lot of young people who feel the same way. Their life just doesn’t fit into a neat package. “I want to be a painter and a missionary.” or “I feel a call to business and ministry.” They look at me in confusion and embarrassment as they share their hearts, their expressions revealing the turmoil within. They think it can’t possibly be right to do both.

Personally, I have always tried to embrace the season that God has me in. I simply do what I feel like He tells me to do. If He tells me to leave my job as a children’s pastor and take a job as a youth secretary halfway across the United States, I do it. My life may seem random to most. (Graphic artist, youth pastor, mission’s director, children’s pastor, youth secretary, drama instructor, painter, schoolteacher, fashion designer, writer, and wife are a few random titles I’ve held.) But now, at age twenty-nine and quickly closing the gap to age thirty, life is starting to make sense to me. What seemed disjointed is finally beginning to come together.

(If you are wondering when I was going to explain about what the taco has to do with all this- keep reading. It’s coming. )

In the midst of daily mundane living, the uniqueness of where God has us can be lost. I’ve thought about it lately like this: imagine a huge blank canvas. You pick up a tube of yellow paint and start painting away. Then you pick up a green tube, a little orange, and some purple and continue on with your masterpiece. No one thinks it’s weird to use different colors to paint. All the colors together make something beautiful in the end. It’s kind of like life. You may be painting in yellow right now and wondering what God is doing, maybe even feeling a little like He’s forgotten about the big dreams He told you about. Maybe you feel like you’ve been stuck in a holding pattern, a big merry-go-round of routine. Maybe you feel like you are doing a little of this and a little of that- and everything is pretty half hazard. Take a step back, Make sure you are still painting on the canvas (doing what God has spoken for this season) and see the big picture. God is doing something amazing with the details of your life. When you commit to obey the voice of God in each new season, you will one day look back and see the master design God has been painting all along.

“For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 (New International Version)

You may feel like you’re all alone out there, living this segmented life of desires that God has placed in your heart. Well, you’re not alone. In fact, I have met a whole bunch of young people just like you. It seems that God is doing something new with this generation.

And it’s needed.

If you’re like me, there is something inside of you that wants to throw off labels and titles. Something that doesn’t want to be placed in a box. This new generation cries out to be recognized as a follower of Christ, void of titles and stigmas, to be assimilated into society. Kind of like Paul, who was a tentmaker, missionary, apostle, and servant. (Acts 18:3, Titus 1:1) This young generation is a group of creative people. They are multi-skilled. They are diverse. They are different- and they are not ashamed. There is a stirring in the hearts of this generation. A cry to be real. To embrace the call of God for their life- however different it may look.

So if you are wondering why you have been painting in yellow in this season, it is for the divine call that God has placed on this generation. You have a new task ahead of you and it is a call that only you can answer yourself. Will you rise up and embrace the call that God has on your life? Will you stand up and be different? Will you pave the way for generations to come? Don’t shrink back from who God has called you to be because you’ve never seen it modeled before. Unzip your potential and discover the treasure that has been locked deep within your heart…no, it’s not a taco. It’s you.


SUBMERGE

At Submerge we are passionate about training people to achieve the dreams that are inside their hearts. Combined with passionate teaching and practical application, Submerge will give you the tools that you need to cause the dreams in your heart to become a reality. To read more about Submerge CLICK HERE.

 

Pity the Fool

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“Can I come?”

Ah, the dreaded words that every kid who has a younger brother or sister hates to hear.   It’s 1983 and I am five years old and am about to go over to play at my friend Amy Gym’s house.  My little brother Mike wants to tag along.  Life is so not fair.

“No, you can’t come.” I said, aggravated. 

“Fine. Then I am going to go ask Mom.” He said turning on his heels towards the kitchen where my mom sat reading.

“No, Stop!” I pleaded, as frustrated tears welled up in my eyes. He was going to ruin everything if he came. “You can’t come!”

“Yeah, right.” He smirked.

“No really! You can’t because—“

Think fast, I told myself, or this is all over, and the little tag along is going to ruin everything.

“Because…um…because…” I stalled.

My brother snickered as he turned towards the kitchen.

“Because—Mr. T is coming over!” I screeched.

Silence filled the room as he turned around. His eyes widened as he took in the fullness of what I was saying.  His hero, Mr. T, was coming to our house.  Just incase you don’t know who Mr. T is, he was a television hero from the 80’s who would have given Chuck Norris a run for his money any day. 

“You’re kidding.” Mike whispered in awe.

“No.” I stepped towards him and solemnly whispered back. “I’m not.”

My eyes narrowed, as I took a deep breath and began to weave a magnificent lie, “Mom and Dad didn’t want me to tell you, because they didn’t want you to get too excited or anything, but Mr. T is coming over,” I looked down at the floor, as I tried not to smile. “Listen, I don’t want you to miss seeing him.” I glanced up. “But you can come with me to Amy’s house if you want to.” I smiled demurely.

“No thanks!” He smiled and ran to his room.

Yes! Another little brother catastrophe successfully averted.

I went to Amy’s house and played to my hearts content.  Well actually, I wound up coming home a little early because Amy spun me in circles on her tire swing for over an hour and then gave me some really gross candy from Europe. Since I didn’t want to hurt her feelings by spitting the candy out, I swallowed it whole. About five seconds after it went down, it came back up. I guess European candy and a spinning tire swing don’t mix well.

Amy’s mom drove me home.  I walked into my house and my mom was holding my little brother on the couch.  He turned his head toward me as I came through the front door. Uh-oh. Red rimmed eyes- not a good sign.  He buried his head into Mom as he sniffled a heartrending whimper.

“Why? Why would you do this to him?” she asked.

“What?” I asked nonchalantly.  Hey, I figured I was already in trouble, so what’s the use of admitting what I had done wrong until I absolutely had to. (I must add I was completely horrible!)

My mom sighed, “Lying to your brother about Mr. T. coming to the house, That is what.” She shook her head in disappointment, “Your brother cleaned his room.  He lined up all his matchbox cars around the room so that Mr. T could see them.  He’s been working for hours.”  Since my brother’s matchbox car collection ranged in the hundreds, if not thousands, he would have been working for a while.  I felt a twinge of guilt creep through my calloused heart. I actually felt a little bad for the little guy, or more aptly put in the words of the great Mr. T, “I pity the fool.”

So that evening, justice was rightfully served. If puking up Europe candy wasn’t enough punishment for one night, I got a good, sound spanking for lying to my brother.   In my defense, it was his choice to stay, right?  He chose to forgo hours of tag-along-fun with his big sister for a once in a lifetime chance to meet the extraordinary Mr. T.  (Who, of course, never showed up).  The thing with choices is inevitably you have to choose- one thing for another.  So what if you are like my little brother, and choose the wrong thing? What if you make a mistake? These are the fears that plague us.  Many times making choices can feel like grasping blindly  in darkness.  How do you know where to go? What to do?  In those “fork in the road” decision times in life, how do we know which way to turn?

Been talking to a lot of high school seniors lately, and wow, do they have it rough.  Graduating high school is one of the craziest things you can ever do.  One day, you wake up really early, you put on a funny little dress thingie, a weird hat, shake someone’s hand and they give you a piece of paper.  You smile, someone takes your picture and as soon as you walk off the stage it’s like a firing squad of questions, “So, what’s next, where are you going to college? What do you want to do with your life?”  Yesterday, you were a normal teenager, and then suddenly, in one foul swoop everything changes. Even your parents- who just days earlier wouldn’t let you stay out alone past 10:30 on a weeknight are asking you when you are moving out.  You’re still the same person, nothing has really changed, except now the stakes are higher and people are actually asking you real life questions about your future.  And for many, the future can be a scary place, full of uncertainties.  It’s crazy, but then, growing up always is.

But let’s go back a few years, back before high school, back before choices were a big deal, all the way back to when the biggest choice you had to make was whether you wanted the orange Popsicle or the red one. When you were a kid, you weren’t trying to figure everything out, you had different priorities then, and the main objective was about having fun.  Ah, the good old days when you could run for hours without losing your breath and you thought you could be anything. You, President? Of course! (Vote for me and all your wildest dreams will come true.) There is something that resonates in the heart of a child- a child truly believes that they are special.  They believe in the core of them that they are different; they are an explorer, an inventor, and a dreamer.  Life is an adventure and every day is an opportunity to embrace it. But you’ve grown up now, “matured” so to speak.  You’ve taken your head out of the clouds and wised up to the way things are supposed to be. 

But wait…is that the way things are supposed to be? Boring, mundane, routine? Should we feebly lay aside our God given talents and passions for a life that we dread? What if you had it right when you were a kid?  What if life is supposed to be fun? Who says we should simply settle for status quo? What if instead of living nominally we so boldly pursue our dreams and dare to live them out? Your life was not meant to be boring, in fact God intended for it to be quite the opposite.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16

“Everlasting life”, hmm, that doesn’t sound boring- does it? Perhaps we have made this life something that it is not.  Boring. Dull. Life-less. Wake up, Read two chapters in the Bible, pray for 30 minutes, clock in, do your time at work, come home, watch T.V., pay taxes, don’t take any risks in life, stay in your little Christian circles and bide your time here on Earth and wait for the glory days in the sweet by and by. But wait a minute; Christ died so that we may have everlasting life.  The question is, when does everlasting life begin? In heaven, once you kick the bucket?  Or does it start right here, right now, the very moment you ask Jesus into your life?

By not living the everlasting life here on earth that He paid the price for, we scorn the work He completed on the cross. We are so quick to show contempt at those whom we think are not living for God.  But what does it mean to “live for God”?

Does it mean pursuing the dreams He’s given you?

Does it mean enjoying this life He has blessed you with? 

Does it mean loving those around you and reaching out to those in need?

Does it mean shunning the nominal in your life?

The following is an excerpt of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, (CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios) delivered on June 12, 2005 at Stanford University.

 “When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

For many, time has passed by quickly and the years have sped by like days…it may seem too late to pursue the dreams in your heart.  I have good news for you it’s not.

I think about what Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life and life to the fullest.” He was talking about my life in that statement.  He was talking about you too. In coming to earth He was searching to exchange average living for something phenomenal. He wanted your wildest dreams to come true.  In fact, He is the one who gave those dreams to you, (Ps 37:4) not to frustrate you, but to bless you!   I’m not sure where it started, but somewhere, someone started projecting this negative image of God.  Like He’s out to get us and force us to live a life that we will hate. I’ve been told many a time, “Never say that you DON’T want to do that because then God will MAKE you do it!” It just doesn’t add up. God does not want to use your life as a divine object lesson. There is this pseudo philosophy that when faced with those fork in the road decisions, the spiritual thing to do is choose the road that looks hard or you aren’t excited about.  But that doesn’t even make sense! Why would God send His son to give us the best life possible, and place all these dreams inside our hearts, choose this moment in all of history for us to be born, and then punish us by making us live a life that we hate?  That does not sound like Gods nature at all, it sounds like the devil. I’m not saying that life is a rosy walk in the park, and I am not saying that doing what God has called you to do is always going to be easy, but I am telling you that the reward of following your dreams far outweighs the sacrifice.

Christ died, not only so we can go to heaven, not only so we could be whole, but also so that we can experience the best life possible here on earth.  He valued your life so much that he was willing to die for it.  Unfortunately that statement has become so cliché that we don’t even understand it’s full impact. 

So what does He want for us in this life? I believe He wants us to embrace our natural talents and God given desires.  I believe he wants you to ask yourself, “What do I love? What makes me come alive?  What excites me? What makes me so pumped that I can’t sleep at night?” I have heard many young people who are faced with tough decisions about the future pour their heart out about how they are searching for Gods will but don’t seem to have any peace.  Well- what about excitement? Joy? Anticipation???

John Eldridge said this:  “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs.  Ask yourself what makes you come alive and do that because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Friends, it’s time to come alive. 


SUBMERGE

At Submerge we are passionate about training people to achieve the dreams that are inside their hearts. Combined with passionate teaching and practical application, Submerge will give you the tools that you need to cause the dreams in your heart to become a reality. To read more about Submerge CLICK HERE.


Not Alone

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To every lonely heart,

Your heart may ache tonight.

You may feel alone.

Lost. Hurt. Broken.

Like no one cares or no one sees you.

I hope to remind you of this one thing tonight; you are not alone.

He is with you.

Much closer than you think.

Emmanuel.

Meaning, "God with us."

He sees you today.

You are not forgotten.

A few January's ago I had the chance to visit an orphanage in Haiti full of children who were rescued child slaves. I told those sweet children about the darkest day of my life...when I wept and no one heard. I told them about how I thought that I was nothing...not even worthy to keep living.

Before I left that day I hugged one of the girls and I just felt my heart whisper, "Don't let go until she does." That sweet, lonely child hugged me and would not let go. We embraced for twenty minutes or so. I stroked her hair and rocked her and told her she was lovely and beautiful and wonderful. I don't know about you; but I have never been so lonely that I willingly hugged a stranger for twenty minutes. Friend, perhaps we don't know what true loneliness is.

Months later, I stood on a boat in Cambodia on the Mekong River. On the boat with me were seventy-five women who made their living selling their bodies for sex. That night I told them my story. They wept. Even though our lives are so different, that night we found a common ground. The heart can be a lonely place, it longs to feel a sense of belonging...of being wanted, needed, and most of all loved.

Today, you may find your heart ring hollow... Empty. Lonely. Hurting.

Dear one, you are not alone.

God came to earth. 

Open your heart to Him.

He is with you.

 

GO Snapshot August 23

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Friends,

I hope you are doing great!  Things here in Ecuador are continuing to go well.  Last week we met with the municipality of Quito at their request, and we emerged from the meeting with a plan to work on several fronts together:

1)  In the coming weeks we will hold a conference on Creative Thinking with all of the municipal staff and police from one of the largest districts in Quito.  

2)  They want us to begin working in their schools with a focus on sharing the inherent value that each student possesses and encouraging them to dream.

3)  They’ve asked that we begin to hold teachers conferences to teach them how to train their students to be creative thinkers, innovators, and problem solvers,

4)   They would like to start working with us on a weekly basis in the party district of Quito.  There are many bars and clubs in this district and this is where prostitution seems to be most rampant.  When you go to this area you will find kids as young as 5 years old often unaccompanied by any adult.  Some of these kids have parents who work late nights as street vendors or prostitutes, and others children are rented for the weekend by the mafia from families in rural villages.  These children are then expected to peddle drugs and meet theft quotas.  The city would like to begin reaching out to these kids but they don’t know how to do it.  They’ve offered to shut down an entire street and provide security if our teams will come once a week to offer a childrens presentation with games and a “positive message”.  The hope is that as we build trust with these kids we could find out more about their story’s and provide them with resources such as safe homes at night as an alternative to sleeping in the streets.

We welcome the invitation to work with local government because we believe there needs to be Godly voices and influence in this area.  

Thank you for your continued prayers and support as we step through these new doors.

Journeying Together,

Greg

 

Where are they now?

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faces forever

     People. They are everywhere, we are constantly surrounded by the hustle and bustle of people. When you wait in line at the grocery store or when you are crammed up against a stranger on a Nicaraguan bus, you are always seeing people. Seeing another life, a person who has dreams, family, beliefs, problems and a story; but we do not always stop to listen or take the time to meet them. What changes that? One moment. Once you have one moment with someone, that means something to you, they are hard to forget. Once you hear someone’s story or even just their laugh, you can remember it forever. 

I want to be one of those people that meets people. I want to find out what their dream is, where they came from, why they think the way the do. I live for those moments of connection. I live here in Nicaragua, everyday trying to make a connection with a kid or someone I meet so that I can tell them about Jesus or just lend them a helping hand. I love those moments that stick with you forever.

I had one of these encounters when i went to Haiti with GoInternational.tv back in February of last year. I met this boy at an orphanage and we did not speak much but words were not necessary. We played and laughed all day long. I could never forget that laugh. Thankfully my friend was around to capture a picture of us with one of the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen. I treasure that picture because it takes me back to that moment. Today I was bored and searching through instagram and I saw that one of my friends liked a photo.. it just looked like a cute kid so I clicked on it. It was him. This friend was a friend of a friend who had also gone to the same orphanage in Haiti (it’s a small world after all, its a small, small world) How crazy is that? She posted a picture of my friend, Pushaun at the CAD orphanage in Haiti. Oh it made my heart so happy to see that he is doing well! I was flooded with memories of how we laughed together and how he held my hand outside the bus for almost 5 minutes before we drove a way. I will remember this boy for the rest of my life and I hope to create so many more of those moments with the people that I see all around me.

Here is the picture she posted:

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isn’t he beautiful? how could I ever forget that face?!

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Here is a picture I took with him a year and a half ago:

 

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^goodness, that picture takes me right back to that day. I was so upset that Dave (Go International's Project Director) was making me leave. I just wanted to laugh with him for as long as possible. My heart is happy. I am so thankful that in my random Instagram scrolling I found that picture. :)

 

To read more about Jessica and her adventures in Nicaragua click here.  

 

Life with a View

Photo By Ashton O'Neil 

Everywhere you look in Quito you are surrounded by some of the worlds most breathtaking mountains.  The first night that we arrived in Quito our two year old son Zion, saw the city lights twinkling on the mountains and said, "Ohhhhhhh! Christmas! It's beautiful!"  One of the most beautiful views here is from atop the Teleférico.  To take in this breath taking view you must first ride up the side of a mountain in a cable car.  The ride takes about ten minutes.  From there, you can see the entire city spread out in front of you.

Our first Submerge Team (Right to Left: Tabitha Paylor, Greg Baca, Zion Baca, Christa Baca, Jesse Herbert, Ashton O'Neil, Justin Kila, Stephen Wenrich, Pricilla Gray, Lauren Bruhn, Kate Kovach) 

  If you happen to come to Quito on a trip with Go, you can be sure that this will be one of the first places we will take you.  

A Really Mean Trick

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“Want to know a secret about the house?” She leaned in and said to me. My eyes grew wide as I nodded.

It was sixth grade and my family and I were moving into our dream house. Two stories, next to a farm, our own acre of forest to explore, and a pool. We were living large and excited like crazy to move in.


A few days before the previous owners moved out we drove over so Mom and Dad could talk “house stuff” to the sellers. My brothers and I came along for the ride hoping to get a chance to play in the backyard with the two girls who lived there. We had no idea that what they were about to tell us would radically change our free time for the next year.

“This house has a secret passage.” One of the sisters said.

My brother and I looked at each other, our eyes wide with amazement.

“Where?” we whispered back in awe.

“We can’t show you.”

“Why not?” we said defensively.

“We just can’t. We found it and you have to find it too.”

It was then that my parents called us and told us to hurry up and get in the car. UGH!! Perfect timing.

“Just tell us quick.” we pleaded.

“Nope.” And with that she made the key-locking-the-mouth-and-swallowing-the-key- symbol. You know how that is when you are kid- the final word has been spoken and silence locks down like Alcatraz Prison.

“GUYS—Lets go!” My Dad boomed. Just a few more seconds of stalling and we would be risking an appointment with the “spanking spoon”.

We jumped up and ran to the station wagon, determined the next time we saw them we would force them to tell us where the secret hiding place was.

Only, we never saw them again.

My brother and I spent almost every day for the next year looking for the secret passage. We looked under the stair case, in closets, we tapped on the walls listening for hollow spots, we searched every square inch of our house several times over. It was our obsession. We would talk about it incessantly, we would wake up early and search before we went to school and we whispered about it at night when we were supposed to be sleeping. We searched DAY and NIGHT for over a year but we never found it. Honestly, even now, at age 31 I occasionally find myself pressing on the knots in the floorboards when I come to Mom and Dads house for a visit.

So, if you want to know a really mean trick to play on someone—move out of your house and tell the new buyers kids that there is a secret passageway somewhere in the house and then never speak to them again.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

I know a lot of people struggle to figure out what God wants them to do with their life. Many think He is like the girls we bought the house from, telling us something so incredible, yet too good to be true.

They are afraid. They think that He is hiding something. They think there must be a “catch”.

“If I follow Gods plan for my life He’s going to make me move to a mud hut in Africa, be poor and marry someone ugly…someone butt ugly.”

They think that God wants to trick them into following Him so he can torture them with His plan for their life. Like their life is one gigantic object lesson that He is going to use to teach them something. 

Plans to Prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope…

What do you hope for in life? To fall in love, to be a success? Maybe you hope you can make a difference or that at the end of your life you meant something significant to others. These are the things that we hope for, that we long for, that we were created for.

Yes, you were created with a purpose, you were created for relationship.

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you…”

Created to know God.

You see, His plan for your life is not illusive- it was not meant to be hidden or veiled. He wants you to know this plan- even more than you do.

In fact, way more than you do.

I don’t know if there is something that is holding you back from fulfilling what you dream about and hope for in life. I DO know that if you let go of fear and seek after God you will discover a plan for your life that is so wonderful, so amazing you wouldn’t believe it if someone told you about it. (Habakkuk 1:5)

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.


SUBMERGE

At Submerge we are passionate about training people to achieve the dreams that are inside their hearts. Combined with passionate teaching and practical application, Submerge will give you the tools that you need to cause the dreams in your heart to become a reality. To read more about Submerge CLICK HERE.

 

Neutral

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NEUTRAL

So, let me tell you about my first time behind the wheel.

I was fourteen and my Mom was taking forever to leave church so I decided instead of milling around the lobby for the next hour I was going to wait in the car. Only instead of getting in the passengers side I climbed in the drivers seat.

Now you know how things are when you are bored. I waited in the car for a while and then I started looking around. I fiddled with the change in the front cup holder, dusted off the dashboard and then something caught my eye: the gear shift.

I glanced in the rear view mirror.

No one was coming.

I slowly pushed in the button and the car slid into neutral. Then everything happened at once: Neutral, hill, momentum and tree.

Neutral.

It's a place where movement can begin.

There was another time in my life when I discovered the power of "neutral". I was in Bible school and just weeks away from graduation. The only problem was I had NO IDEA what to do next and I was terrified that I would make the wrong move and end up ruining my life.

My director pulled me aside and asked me if I had any plans for next year. I kind of just shrugged my shoulders and looked at the floor. What do you say when you have no idea what to do? "Yes. I plan to change the world. How? Ummm, I have no idea." The problem was I wanted to do something big for God but I was so scared I would screw it up I couldn't even make a move. I think the answer I finally gave him was something like, "No…not really."

Then he asked me this, "What would you like to do?" This question kind of took me off guard because it seemed so simple and everything I was going through in trying to decide what to do seemed so hard. I thought he would say something way more spiritual like, "Have you fasted and prayed?" or "You need to follow the 41 steps to hearing the voice of God." But no, so simple… “what would you like to?”

I told him, " I'd like to go live overseas."

"Who do you know that lives overseas?"

I told him the names of some family friends that lived in Prague.

His advice? Put it in neutral. "God can't steer a parked car." He told me, "if you put your life in neutral God can direct where you are going."

So that's what I did, I put it in neutral. I shook fear off and got my foot off the brakes. I called Prague. I talked to my friends that lived there. I priced out airline tickets. I started fundraising. Each small step built confidence in my heart that this was what I was supposed to do. It was just four months later that I stepped off the jet way and got my first official passport stamp in Europe.

Isaiah 30: 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

I love this scripture. When I am trying to make a tough decision in life, this is the scripture that I cling to.

It's like "neutral" in a nutshell. Take the brakes off. Shift into gear. Slowly allow your life to move in the direction you feel like God is leading you, and let Him steer you. As you make forward motion- God can show you where to go. It's when you have your life in park and your foot on the brakes that He can't even budge you.

You may be faced with tough decisions in life right now. What should I do with my life? Which college should I go to? Should I move across the country and take that job?

Put your life in neutral. Don't slam on the brakes or recklessly speed off by going full throttle on the gas.

Begin to make small steps.

Listen to his still small voice.

"THIS is the way, walk in it."

Trust that He will lead you.

 


SUBMERGE

At Submerge we are passionate about training people to achieve the dreams that are inside their hearts. Combined with passionate teaching and practical application, Submerge will give you the tools that you need to cause the dreams in your heart to become a reality. To read more about Submerge CLICK HERE.

 

 

My Time in Submerge: By Lauren Bruhn

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It is difficult to find a few words to accurately depict one of the most tremendous adventures of my life.  Submerge was exactly that, an adventure of a lifetime. Now that I’m back in the States, I find it harder adjusting to “normal” life than it was adjusting to life in South America. There is something so harmonious about the lifestyle of Ecuadorians that, even with the language barrier, you instantly feel at home. The way people unabashedly embrace one another is an art they have mastered and a large portion of the world has forgotten.

Sadly, generosity is something we usually have to talk ourselves into, but these extraordinary people welcome you with open arms without giving it a second thought. An adventure awaits you--whether it’s the beauty of the people and the striking scenery you will encounter everyday, youʼre hiking one of the mountains that surround the city, maneuvering your way through the markets, or learning how to salsa from the locals.

One of the most important lessons I have learned in the last three months is to value experiences that you know will cause you to struggle, because those are the experiences that are worth pursuing. It is a struggle living and ministering with a small group of people.  It is a struggle adjusting your habits to a foreign culture. It is a struggle experiencing the horror of poverty and disease.  It is difficult, but it is worth it.

No amount of words could even begin to prepare you for the things that are waiting for you in Ecuador, but I can guarantee you unparalleled adventure, lifelong friendships, creativity, and memories you will never forget.

I can guarantee you won’t return home the same.  You will be stronger, wiser, and more aware of what you crave from life.  You will begin to live in a way where your thoughts about others far outnumber your thoughts about yourself and discover, it is the only way to live.

 

To find out more about Submerge and how you can be involved CLICK HERE. 

To view photos of Lauren and other Submerge members CLICK HERE. 

Amazing Christa

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I slowly tiptoed to my room, opened my drawer and pulled out my great-grand mother’s handkerchief. The show would start in just a minute.

On my way back to the living room I made sure that all the adults were busy. Yup, everyone was visiting in the kitchen, now I just hoped that they stayed that way. My plan was unfolding perfectly, I was about to do something amazing.

On the T.V. in the living room was the candle, flickering in the evening light. I cleared my throat. It was time to begin.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” I said to the empty living room as I imagined standing on stage before hundreds of people. “Tonight the Amazing Christa Wimer will attempt to hold this handkerchief over this burning flame for one second.” I paused for dramatic effect. “Folks, can she do it? We shall see.” Then I waved my tiny five-year-old fingers over the handkerchief and said, “Now, I will say the magic words, ‘a-la-peanut butter sandwiches’.”

I walked dramatically over to the candle, my heart pounding. This one act will prove whether or not I was a true magician, whether or not I would embark on my career as the “Amazing Christa” or simply have to carry on as a regular kindergartner. I took the handkerchief and held it over the flame.

“One!” I shouted as I pulled it swiftly away.

Astonishingly, it worked!

“Ladies and Gentlemen, she did it!” I said triumphantly taking a bow.

I was a true magician. Burning flames were no match for my astounding magical powers. I was elated and in my delight I decided that the trick I had just completed was too easy, I must accomplish something more daring, something that would skyrocket my career as the “Amazing Christa.”

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” I announced. “The Amazing Christa Wimer will attempt something even more amazing than the last magic trick that she just performed. She will attempt to hold this handkerchief over this burning flame for ten seconds.”

I said the magic words as I waved my hand over the handkerchief. This was truly going to be amazing.

I took the handkerchief and held it directly over the flame.

“One…two…three.” I said each number loudly and dramatically.

“Four…fi—ve AHHHH!!!” In one split second the handkerchief had ignited. I threw it over my head into the air. It floated to the floor, landed on the carpet and became a giant flaming torch in the middle of the living room. Alas, as my brown shag carpet burned to a crisp, my grandiose dreams of becoming the world’s youngest magician came to a crashing halt. The next few moments are a blur. Someone hoisted me up and carried me safely out of the living room. Others threw water on the carpet and stomped out the flames with their hands and boots. That night the “Amazing Christa” gave her first and final magical performance.

Let’s fast-forward a few years. Sixth grade. What a crazy year in the life of the “Amazing Christa”. On the first day of school I came confident, sure of myself, happy, and excited. By the end of that year, I emerged as a different person. I guess nine months of being made fun of can wear on a person. I can still hear the girls at the lunch table…

“Christa, do you want to know who the nerd of the class is?”

“You.” they told me.

That’s a hard thing to hear as a kid and not believe. Honestly, I truly loved who I was and I would look in the mirror and think, “What is it about me that is not to like?” Maybe if I weren’t so quirky, so opinionated…so different. Maybe if I could change my hair, buy more expensive clothes; get these stupid braces off, then things would change. But they didn’t. The harder I tried to be accepted, the more alienated I became.

I changed my methods, instead of trying to stand out; I simply tried to blend in. Quirkiness was substituted with conformity, opinions exchanged with shyness, braces replaced by a face that never smiled. I certainly wasn’t the most popular, but at least I was no longer a target.

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Matt 5:16

I guess as the die hard missionary that I am, I have always looked at this scripture as an example of how we need to witness to others…you know, shine the light of Jesus and be nice to people. Lately though, I’ve been looking at this scripture in a new light, in the way that it directly pertains to how we view ourselves.

When we started out on this journey of life, we all thought that we were amazing. (Sure, most of you probably weren’t trying to prove it by lighting the living room carpet on fire.) But we all knew that something about us was special. I guess sometimes along the journey we can become disillusioned. It’s easy to think that “being you” just isn’t good enough.

The other day we took the Go Interns to meet with a really amazing guy, Tom Newman, and he said something that really rocked my world, “The greatest place in life that you can ever hope to arrive at is to be yourself. Never stray from that place. If you do, the only hope you have of ever being better is to eventually come back to being yourself.”

I love that.

The greatest place you can ever hope to arrive at is being who you were created to be. There is so much freedom in that. It’s easy to be you. You just wake up and embrace the day and shine, as only you can.

It was in my early twenties that I decided to stop apologizing for the way that I am. I am different. Unique. Silly. That’s me. Call me weird if you want to, I’ll just smile and say, “thank you”. I’m not embarrassed by what makes me distinctive, in fact, I am most proud of it. What you will discover, when you embrace who you are, is centeredness unlike anything you have ever experienced before. Confidence. Others see it too. There is nothing that speaks louder than a person unafraid to be themself.

The world is waiting for you to shine.


SUBMERGE

At Submerge we are passionate about training people to achieve the dreams that are inside their hearts. Combined with passionate teaching and practical application, Submerge will give you the tools that you need to cause the dreams in your heart to become a reality. To read more about Submerge CLICK HERE.

 

Go International Documentary

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On Sunday a film crew from Gray Media Productions will arrive here in Quito to begin shooting a documentary with us.  The crew will follow our team as we do a variety of ministry with the main goal of documenting the Dream Campaign.  The concept of the film is to capture how regardless of culture or economic class you still find people who dream.  This film is not necessarily a “Christian Film”, but rather a story told from a Christian perspective.  We pray that doors of distribution will open not only in Christian circles but also in secular avenues where we can share a message of hope with a broad audience.  I’ll keep you posted on how the shoot goes and any development that occur in the coming months!

The past few weeks have been busy as we have been training our newest Submerge team and sending them out for their first outreaches.  In just a few short weeks they’ve ministered in prisons, after school programs, parks, and plazas.  In addition they have held a Dream Campaign, a Vision Challenge, and created a brand new outreach we will be doing tonight called the Believe Campaign.  It is great building relationships with a new group of people and helping them get to know this incredible country.

In the last edition of this newsletter, I shared how a local magazine has decided to feature Go International in each edition that they publish.  Since that time I spoke to the publisher and pitched a new idea.  I asked if he would be willing to dedicate some space in his magazine to the boys in the juvenile prison that we minister in each week; he said yes.  The goal is to give these boys, whom society has pushed to the side, a voice in their city.  We want to tell their stories to the city and let them share how their lives have been changing.  We spoke to the directors of the prison about the concept, they were excited and thought it would be a great encouragement for these young men to see their words published.

We have now been ministering twice a week in the prison for about four months.  We have grown close to these young men and have spent much time talking about choices, identity, redemption, and God’s plan for their lives.  They are truly starting to “get it”.  The directors of the prison tell us often what a difference it is making in the boys lives, and they continue to give us favor.  I’m a firm believer that while God has good plans for us, we must develop ourselves to receive all that He has.  For this reason I feel that it is important to build upon what we’ve been sharing with these young men and begin to give them practical tools that will help them succeed when they get out of prison.  Beginning next week we will be adding two classes to our curriculum; English and Introductory Business.  We gave the boys the choice of which class they could sign up for, and they were excited about having the opportunity to learn one of these topics.  

Thank you for your continued prayers as we continue to plow ground here and seek to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth!

Journeying Together,

The Bacas

 

Go Snapshot: Aids Orphanage, Juvenile Center, and The Talk

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I pray you and your family have a great holiday weekend as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ.  As believers we pause to reflect on the sacrifice that was made for us so that we might know God and live in the freedom that comes with the forgiveness of sin.  It is this story of redemption and reconciliation that compels us to live here in a foreign country and make known the name of Christ.

The Gospel message that we share here in Ecuador is not a message of rules and lists of good things to do.  The message we preach is that God loves you right where you are.  He is not mad at you.  He loves you and wants you to live free from the burden of sin.  He sees you as valuable.  This is a message that when believed is transformational.

It is our belief in this life changing message that moves us to seek creative ways in which we can share it with others.  This week we have seen God work in the lives of many people.  We thank you for being part of what He is doing in Ecuador!  Below are just a few of the things that took place this week.

Journeying Together,

The Bacas

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Aids Orphanage  I have been visiting orphanages for the past 15 years but now that I have my own son it is tougher than ever before.  As a parent you know what a kid needs and what they desire so when you see children living in such rough conditions it breaks your heart.  This was especially the case as we visited an aids orphanage this past week.  It was a great day we shared with them though as we played games, painted faces, and just loved them.

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Juvenile Detention Center Once again we were back with our friends at the detention center.  It is amazing as we’ve gone week after week to see the hearts of these young men soften and open to us.  This week they asked to take our team picture and told us that we are part of their family!

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The Talk If you have been receiving this email for any length of time you know that we are busy with a variety of evangelistic projects.  The result of this has left many people wanting to know more and seeking to become involved in what we are doing.  This has lead us to launch a new weekly meeting at a local restaurant that we are simply calling “The Talk”.  The goal of this meeting is to give unchurched people that we encounter a safe place to come and build community and learn more about Christ.

Go Snapshot: Love From Above, Prison, Schools, and More.

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snapshot_3-16-13

This week marked our first fully operational week of Submerge.  The first week we spent much of our time in training, building relationships with the team, and planning.  This week we hit the ground running as we executed all of our plans from the prior week.  We started things off on Saturday with one of the outreaches we’ve done in other countries called, “Love from Above”.

side-bar-photo-template

side-bar-photo-template

The concept is simple.  Come up with little ways you can bless a stranger, accompany this act with hand out cards that say “Love From Above: We wanted to show you by this simple act of kindness that God loves you and he cares very much about you.”  The card then directs them to visit a page on our website with an article in Spanish on God’s love for us.  The team chose to go to a local park and pass out free water along with the Love from Above cards.  They had some incredible conversations and people were blown away that anyone would spend their Saturday passing water out to strangers.

In addition to this outreach the team ministered at; a juvenile detention center, One Heart college ministry, a kids feeding program, and two schools where they presented 7 childrens/youth programs.  Needless to say the team was very busy this week and saw much fruit from their labor.  In all they were able to minister to over 1100 people since last Saturday!  We also began Spanish classes this week, I say “we” because Christa and I are definitely attending classes as well!  It’s amazing how much more you pay attention in class when you know that when you walk out the door that’s the only language you can use to communicate!

Overall I would say we are very happy with the launch of Submerge and are enjoying getting to know the team more each day.  We trust that they are learning and growing as they make themselves available to be used by God.  Thank you for your continued prayers for us and our team and we specifically ask that you pray for health as some of our team members are battling some “bugs” this week.

Journeying Together,

The Baca’s

you-are-creative

you-are-creative

You Are Creative I have been speaking every Saturday all this month to a local youth group on Creativity and the role it can play in our life.  One tool that I always share with people when speaking on the subject, is something I first heard from Robert Kiyosaki years ago.  When faced with an obstacle or challenge don’t say “I can’t” but rather, ask “How can I?”.  That subtle distinction can make all the difference in the results we see in life.  Give it a try and watch your mind go to work.

lunch-with-z

lunch-with-z

My Day With Zion I’m sure we can all recall conversations with either our parents or our children about the importance of being grateful and how others around the world have it worse than we do.  This has been a recurring conversation in the Baca home recently as we aim to instill gratefulness and generosity in the heart of our son.  Yesterday I told Zion he was not going to daycare but that he and I were going downtown to look for ways we could be a blessing.  We ended up inviting a group of children who work as shoe shiners to eat lunch with us.  Afterwards Zion suggested he use his ten dollars his Papa had recently given him to buy ice cream for everyone.  It was a special day for all of us.

passport

passport

Visa's In Hand Thank you to all who have been standing with us in agreement that our visa’s would come through.  Yesterday I went to the immigration office to pick them up and I’m happy to say that today we have them in hand!  This completes phase 2 of a 3 phase process that must be accomplished in order to obtain the type of long term visa we are hoping for.